Troubleshooting access problems through a firewall is often very difficult, especially when speed to resolution is critical. Errors in long complex ACLs can be easily overlooked, and access failures caused by NAT, IDS, and routing make the problem even more difficult.
Cisco has released an incredible new feature in ASA software version 7.2(1) that virtually eliminates the guesswork. Packet-tracer allows a firewall administrator to inject a virtual packet into the security appliance and track the flow from ingress to egress. Along the way, the packet is evaluated against flow and route lookups, ACLs, protocol inspection, NAT, and IDS. The power of the utility comes from the ability to simulate real-world traffic by specifying source and destination addresses with protocol and port information.
Packet-tracer is available both from the CLI and in the ASDM. The ASDM version even includes animation (the value of which is questionable, but it is fun to watch), and the ability to navigate quickly to a failed policy.
A few examples of truncated output show some of the most useful features. Not only does the tool show the result of an ACL evaluation, but also the specific ACE that either permits or denies the packet, including a hit on the implicit deny.
Phase: 7 Type: NAT Subtype: Result: DROP Config: nat (DMZ) 0 access-list NoNAT nat-control match ip DMZ any outside any no translation group, implicit deny policy_hits = 1
- Kevin Miller, Herman Miller, Inc., Zeeland, Michigan, USA
Packet-tracer does more than just inject a 'virtual' packet into the data-plane. One can also add the 'trace' option to the capture command, so that actual packets the security appliance receives (which are matched by the capture) are also traced.
To view the packet-trace from captured packet #3 in the capture, use the command: ASA# "show capture mycap trace packet-number 3"
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